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March, 2009

It's A Family Affair

By Mark Mulcahy

Even though Mark Twain said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education”, cauliflower is one of the most popular vegetables in the United States.

Organic Cauliflower
Just look at how many ways you can eat it. Raw in salad or on a crudité platter, steamed, roasted, mashed or even as a tasty soup. It is as versatile as it is tasty but do you also know that it is an excellent source of Vitamin C? I have to admit, I didn’t.

Perhaps next time you feel a cold coming on, you should reach for Melissa’s organic vegetables, which are good sources of vitamin C, such as bell peppers, asparagus, and cauliflower, instead of the standard OJ. I know I might.

Twain was right though, about cauliflower being related to cabbage. As a matter of fact, it belongs to the same brassica family of cruciferous vegetables that includes kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These fantastic cruciferous vegetables are known as incredible cancer fighters. For women, eating vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower can help prevent breast cancer, due to the fact that they contain isothiocyanates, (no this isn’t a mythological Greek god) which are believed to hold cancer-preventive benefits that you get when you eat them. But that’s not all; check out the latest news about how another cruciferous vegetable – broccoli – can benefit men too! Sure we know that organic broccoli is packed with nutrients like vitamin C, folate, vitamin A and potassium, as well as some iron, calcium, vitamin B and fiber. But it’s a new University of Illinois study that is really exciting. The study shows that tomatoes and broccoli are better at shrinking prostate tumors when eaten together than when they're eaten alone; sort of a two for one deal, right? My friend Jennifer Brewer from http://www.nourishingnutrition.com came up with a couple of recipes that you might enjoy that make the most of these two wonderful vegetables. The first is:

Curried Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Serves 6

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

This soup has just a hint of curry, so it isn’t overwhelming at all! It is puréed and will be so much easier to make if you use an immersion blender. An immersion blender is a handheld blending device which you immerse in the thing you want to blend, allowing you to blend the soup right in the pot.

You’ll need:
1 Tablespoon olive or coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 carrots, chopped
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
6 Melissa’s baby Dutch Yellow™ Potatoes, diced
2 teaspoons curry powder
6 cups vegetable broth
Lemon juice to taste

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, and curry and stir 1 minute. Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 35-45 minutes. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender, or right in the pot with an immersion blender. Return soup to same pot and bring to simmer, adding extra vegetable broth if needed and heating through. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Or if broccoli is more your choice, try this:

Roasted Broccoli & Pepper Pasta
Serves 4-6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

This pasta dish is loaded with broccoli and gets most of its fat from olives and olive oil, which contain healthy monounsaturated fats.

You’ll need:
12 oz. brown rice or whole-grain pasta: rotini or penne
1 pound baby broccoli or regular broccoli, cut into florets
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup kalamata olives cut in half
5 sun dried tomatoes, sliced 1/2-cup fresh parsley, minced
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place washed and cut broccoli and peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. At the same time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain when done. Meanwhile, mince garlic. Combine oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan. Add olives, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley. Cook over low heat until the rest of the pasta ingredients are ready. When pasta is cooked and broccoli and peppers are roasted, add all ingredients, including beans into the saucepan and cook until all heated through. Add salt and pepper and serve.

**You can use dried sun-dried tomatoes and re-hydrate them or buy the kind in the jar and use those. Do I hear a call for cruciferous vegetables coming from the produce department? If you want to make sure you are selecting the best head of cauliflower or broccoli, follow these simple rules:

For cauliflower: look for white, firm, compact heads that are heavy for their size. How much should you buy? To serve 4 to 6 people, you’ll need a head that is about 6 inches in diameter, which will weigh about 2 pounds.

For broccoli: Choose dark green bunches with tight heads and stalks that are very firm. And don’t throw those stems away! Peel them and cut them into small strips to munch on while you are cooking or for an afternoon snack. If you don’t like them by themselves, then dip the stalks into your favorite Good Life Food Organic Salad Dressing or Organic Dip Mix. Perhaps I’ll see you around the broccoli display some evening!